In its raw form, cannabis may be able to slow down the mental processes in people with ADHD, which in turn may allow for improved focus and concentration. It may also help relieve the side effects of stimulant drugs by reducing stress and nausea and improving appetite and sleep. Medical marijuana and stimulant medication may work synergistically, with the drugs helping with ADHD symptoms and cannabis easing drug side effects.
The interest in cannabis as a remedy appears to be three-fold. Individuals with ADHD tend to have problems processing the brain neurotransmitter dopamine. Cannabinoids are believed to help correct dopamine deficiency if dosed correctly, and THC increases dopamine concentrations and activates dopamine neurons. A 2017 study conducted in the UK found that adults who used a cannabinoid medication experienced some relief in their hyperactivity/impulsivity symptoms as compared to patients who used a placebo. The group using the cannabinoid medication also showed more appropriate inhibition of activity and better attention depth.
Blue Dream: Users say this strain delivers a strong jolt of energy, leaving them focused and motivated. This strain is useful for easing ADHD medication side effects and can also help with chronic pain.
Sour Diesel: One of the most popular cannabis strains, it is also known as known as Sour D, or Sour Deez, and contains 26% THC and 2% CBD. It is known for giving users an uplifting creative high and has been used for a broad range of medical conditions including anxiety, depression, and chronic fatigue.
Updated on January 21, 2020. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
True OG: This lesser-known strain has a calming effect, allowing users to focus on simple tasks, and is also known for helping to relieve stress and reduce distraction.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurological condition that can have a marked impact on mental health. It can affect memory, ability to focus on a specific task, and overall emotional well-being. Common symptoms, which are often first observed in childhood, include ongoing patterns of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity. Children with ADHD often can’t seem to sit still in school, for example, or don’t seem to be paying attention.
There isn’t a “one size fits all” when it comes to ADHD treatment, which, depending on a person’s age, can include medication, psychotherapy, education or training, or a combination of treatments. Many people rely on medications for ADHD, and there are dozens of drugs on the market, some of which have been in use for decades. But while these medications are effective, they can have side effects including weight loss, sleep problems, irritability, and appetite los. Not surprisingly, there is interest in alternative therapies for ADHD.
Green Crack: Another strain recommended for ADHD by users. With a THC content as high as 24%, this strain is also used to treat PTSD, migraines, and other health conditions.
Interest in marijuana has grown as a potential treatment for ADHD, but research is really still in its formative stages. However, more is being explored.
Primary terpenes: Terpinolene, caryophyllene, ocimene
“Comes on kind of slowly. Is a chilling high, but you can easily focus and do things like schoolwork, cleaning, etc.” —alittleweird7, Leafly reviewer
- THC-dominant strains can be focusing for some and distracting for others. If you find THC strains are causing your mind to be overly racy or foggy, try switching up the strain or experiment with a smaller dose. Find THC-dominant varieties below by looking for strains composed of diamond shapes.
- A CBD-dominant strain contains only trace amounts of THC and is unlikely to produce a euphoric high. For CBD-dominant varieties, look for strains composed of only circles below.
- Balanced THC/CBD strains are known to provide only a mild high, making them a good choice for someone who wants just a little bit of cerebral activation. To find a balanced THC/CBD variety, look for strains made up of both diamonds and circles below.
Primary terpenes: Myrcene, caryophyllene, ocimene
“It makes your frontal lobe act in ways you could never have imagined. It’s almost like Sour Diesel is a key, a key that opens up whole realms of your mind that you were once ignorant of.” —Dr. Zimbardo, Leafly reviewer
Finding that perfect focusing strain requires trial-and-error, but this list provides a few starting points. First, ask yourself what sort of experience you’re looking for:
Cannabinoid profile: CBD-dominant
According to lore, this strain was dubbed Green Crack by Snoop Dogg because its effects were so intensely stimulating. Green Crack sharpens the senses and brings vibrancy to the dull, all with an enticing tropical citrus flavor.
A cross between Sour Tsunami and Harlequin, Harle-Tsu is a high-CBD strain that contains only trace levels of THC. It eases you into clear-headed calmness with little to no intoxicating effects, so you can keep your cognitive faculties intact. If you’re having trouble finding Harle-Tsu near you, try finding its high-CBD parent strains or close relative, Canna-Tsu.
Which cannabis strains can help you stay focused and productive whether you're fighting ADD/ADHD or just in need of a concentration boost?